Binance Holdings Ltd received an in-principle approval from Abu Dhabi Global Market to operate as a broker-dealer in virtual assets.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume still needs to complete the application process, Richard Teng, the company’s head for the Middle East and North Africa and a former ADGM executive, said.
If the full licensing for Abu Dhabi is successful, the exchange said it could then offer its virtual asset services to customers across the MENA region through a subsidiary, Binance (AD) Ltd. It marks a push by the company to expand its presence in the Gulf, following approvals in Bahrain and Dubai.
“Binance has been actively engaging global regulators, such as ADGM, as part of its ongoing commitment to uphold global standards and collectively foster the developments and sustainable growth of the crypto ecosystem,” Teng said.
The UAE, in particular, has emerged as a preferred jurisdiction for crypto exchanges. FTX, one of Binance’s top competitors, received a virtual asset service provider (VASP) license in Dubai last month. BitOasis, the first VASP to be recognised in the country, also secured provisional approval from the regulatory body. Bybit and Crypto.com are expanding their presence as well.
Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao, Binance’s co-founder and CEO, said late last month that Dubai will be his base for the “foreseeable future” and that by “any common interpretation” it’s the company’s headquarters. Quite a few of the firm’s employees will follow his lead in relocating to the skyscraper-studded city in the months ahead, he said.